in hedgehog admissions keeps carers at Secret World busy
carers in the Burnham-On-Sea area are dealing with an influx of
World Wildlife Rescue, based in East Huntspill, has seen a seasonal
surge in the number of the prickly creatures following the cold
spell of weather.
World volunteer Sue Hulbert, right, has been caring for
the centre's hedgehogs for eight years and is currently looking
after 26 hedgehogs.
hedgehogs are kept in an area known by the team as 'Hogwarts'
on site when they no longer need treatment at the charitys
Hogwarts there are rows of cages, each furnished with newspaper,
a dish of food and fresh water, plus a box full of hay for the
"We clean every hedgehog cage out daily, taking care not
to disturb any hibernating hedgehogs," says Sue.
she finds a hibernating hedgehog she leaves it well alone, just
making sure there's fresh food and water in case the hedgehog
wakes up. She has found a few more hibernating over the past week
during the icy conditions.
Sue checks if a hedgehog is hibernating by sliding her hand gently
under the hedgehog in its hay and feeling the temperature. One
hedgehog here was rescued after getting caught in fencing in a
childrens play area in Taunton, and was named Franklin by
his 9 year-old finder.
hes recovered and gained weight Sue says she is glad to
find that hes settled down to hibernate.
the wild a hedgehogs normal temperature is about 35 degrees,"
says Sue, "but when they hibernate this drops to below 10
degrees, so I can feel by the warmth whether a hedgehog is hibernating
heart rate and breathing rate slow down too, and they use very
little energy. The state of their cage is also a tell-tale sign
if theyve made a mess and their food has been eaten,
thats a good sign theyve been up and about!"
hedgehogs start hibernating in November when it gets cold and
their food becomes scarce, but because its been so mild
this winter theyve been out and about until mid-January."
of the hedgehogs at Secret World were rescued in recent weeks
after being found out alone during the daytime, which is often
a sign there is something wrong since hedgehogs are nocturnal.
of the hedgehogs Sue finds still awake is a young male who was
caught by a dog in Clevedon in December. Hes now fit and
healthy and up to a good weight, but although the aim is to get
rescued hedgehogs back to the wild its too cold to release
them at the moment, so this youngster will stay here for now.
that are awake like this one have a thorough check up once a week.
"We avoid disturbing them too often," says Sue, "because
they need peace and quiet to encourage them to hibernate."
hedgehog is weighed and scanned with a microchip reader to confirm
its identity, and put back into a clean warm box of hay with fresh
in the hospital room, a young hedgehog is under close observation
after he was found just before Christmas by the side of a road
in the daytime. Once he is well enough, hell move over to
Hogwarts and with Sues gentle encouragement hell hopefully
settle down to hibernate as the others are starting to.
Secret World is currently appealing for urgent funds to equip
their new wildlife crèche, ready to care for baby hedgehogs
and other orphans this year.